Rescued dog makes friends at Roosevelt Elementary School

Rick Wagner • Oct 8, 2012 at 11:02 AM

KINGSPORT — A Weimaraner from Virginia Beach known as Maverick made friends with Nichole Connor’s third-grade class at Roosevelt Elementary School Monday morning.

That’s ironic, since the dog’s former owner had reported Maverick was not good around children.

Maverick — whose official American Kennel Club name is Grand Champion Anson’s Unforgettable — was a hit with the class.

Student after student volunteered to feed him a treat of string cheese, and he took all the petting and attention without missing a beat. His soft coat is perfect for petting.

The dog’s favorite food is lamb and rice, although owner Dan Stallings said when he first got Maverick in February 2010 he had to hand feed him — odd for a breed that he said normally will eat anything presented.

When Stallings first got Maverick, the dog was underweight and had sores from being in a cage much of the time. After gaining 20 pounds and some much needed TLC, Maverick went to his first dog show.

Things didn’t go so well, but at his second show Maverick won an award, starting a two-year streak that recently ended when Maverick went into retirement from shows.

But Maverick was chosen for stud service. His father, Clay, won Best of Show at the Westminster Dog Show in 2007, while Maverick has won Best of Breed at the prestigious show.

The Roosevelt students got free copies of a book by Stallings and K.B. Cacoste about Maverick titled “One Unforgettable Journey” and received free “Got Mav?” T-shirts.

Then the class had a picture taken for a future hardback edition of a book about Maverick.

And students had plenty of questions to ask about Maverick.

“I decided I wanted to do something fun, so I became a dog trainer with my own business. I train all breeds,” said Stallings, who owns North State Canine Inc. and also operates Mid-Atlantic Animal Rescue.

“Does Maverick have a favorite toy?” one student asked.

“Yeah, me,” Stallings responded, although he said dental chews were also a favorite.

Maverick, who Stallings said weighs about 95 pounds, likes to put his front paws on Stallings’ shoulders and stand behind him.

Stallings described Maverick’s days on the dog show circuit, including the Westminster Dog Show. Maverick sometimes competed in two or three shows a weekend up and down the East Coast.

“In the end, it’s not always about the ribbons and if he won or not,” Stallings said. “It’s about the journey. He wasn’t just winning. He was having fun.”

His advice, for dogs and people, is “Enjoy the journey. Enjoy the ride. Have fun.”

“Are you rich?” another student asked.

Stallings responded, while petting the dog, “I’m rich if you look at it from this standpoint.”

While eating the string cheese, Maverick’s tail wagged constantly. “See that tail wagging? That’s gold,” Stallings said.

Connor asked for “take aways” from the book, and students responded that they should not abuse animals and help them keep healthy. She and Stallings emphasized they should give animals and humans a second chance like Maverick got.

Copies of the book are available on Amazon.com.

Information about Stallings and a video of Maverick are at www.oneunforgettablejourney.com.

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